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Land of Enchantment

Hey, Everyone,

So last time I had just finished up with our most recent trip to Wimberley, which is fun little town south of Austin here in Texas.

We had a few other adventures after that. For one thing, we had to make a quick sort-of emergency trip to see Martha’s oldest friend/adoptive sister who had a bit of a health crisis. Nothing too serious. Just one of those things that happens to us all eventually and from which you recover. It’s just that things are a little more comfortable if someone is there to help.

But I’m not going to write about that trip -- partly to product our friend’s privacy, but also because to get to her, we had to drive through some pretty depressing country. We seemed to see an endless succession of little towns that were slowly fading from the scene. Simply put, like a lot of such towns in post-industrial America, they no longer have a reason to exist. They came into being to service farms and farming, but then better roads and better transport made them unnecessary. Or, they had an industry of some sort at some time, but so much of America’s manufacturing has gone overseas. Or...a thousand other things.

If you’re wondering why our political system seemed to become so dysfunctional, so full of rage, in the last few decades, well, here’s a bit part of the reason. Maybe not the only reason, but very definitely one of the most important of them.

Maybe I will write about that trip, and a couple of others we took, but not today. Maybe later.

Besides...we had another trip, and one which was much more fun.

It all happened because of the heat. As you know, the summer of 2023 was pretty brutal. Texas summers are always fierce. (Mark Twain once said that if he owned hell and Texas, he’d rent out Texas and live in hell. I understand the sentiment.) But this summer was uniquely awful. We went months without the mercury getting much below triple digits--even at night. Even native Texans, who are used to this sort of thing, are complaining.(1) A few among them have even begun to wonder if, gasp, Climate Change might really be a thing--rather than a hoax foisted on America by villainous Chinese to “Cripple Our Industry.”(2)

And of course the heat itself is then ramped up by the humidity. Check your weather app on your phone, and it’ll say, for example, “temperature 110” but “feels like 115.” Which is not something you really want to see first thing in the morning. Or any time.

About the photos: First, we have a picture of Martha enjoying a cup of tea at the Rumaan Cuisine restaurant in the Lakeline Mall in Cedar Park, Texas. It has nothing to do with the story, but I do like the photo. And, besides, it is roughly on the route to the airport in Austin, so I’ll pretend like there’s a connection.

As for Martha and me...who are not native Texans, and who are not used to the has been a bit horrible. You feel sort of like you’re a prisoner. You can’t go outside because it means leaving your air conditioner. You can’t take walks. You can’t go for a jog. You can only exercise by either getting up in the morning and trying to run around your neighborhood (and even then, even when it's not yet seven o’clock, the temperatures may be near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about 38 degrees Celsius for you metric types), or by going down to the Rec Center and swimming or using the equipment there. But even though you can get some exercise that way, you’re still in-doors. And that takes a lot of the pleasure out of it. At least it does for us.

And Martha, I think, suffers the worst of the two of us. She is, after all, a native New Englander and October is, as she says, her month...with its cool breezes and lovely foliage. Then, when we went to New Mexico, she fell in love with the Rocky Mountains as well. She used to enjoy nothing more than a trip to the top of, say, the Sandia Mountains, with the delightful chill and glorious views.

So I guess I really wasn’t surprised when, one morning over coffee, Martha turned to me and said, “I’ve got a crazy idea.”

“Yes?” Crazy ideas are fine with me. Hey, I am crazy. And proud of it. Keeps things interesting. And those auditory and visual hallucinations, while admittedly sometimes a bit on the weird side, are usually better than most of the stuff you can get on cable. So, advantages all around....

“It’s like this...”

“Yes,” I said again.

“We should go to New Mexico for a week. To, um, you know, get away from the heat.”

“Ah,” I said. “When do you think we should go?”

“ is...well...” She looked embarrassed.

“Do you have,” I continued, bravely, “a particular date in mind?”

“Well, that is to say, I mean...I kind of...”

“Uh-huh,” I said, thoughtfully, insightfully, as a good husband should. “Let me put it another way. When should I have my bags packed?”

“Friday. In the morning.”

“Right, I said. “I’ll go get the suitcases out of the garage.”


So it was that we were headed off on yet another little venture...this time to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

So stay tuned. There’s lots more to come: including high art, a Casita, an AirB&B account that stopped working at the worst possible time, surprisingly hot days (yikes), ladies of the evening in black leather (double yikes), and, of course, self-important celebrity morons talking (loudly) in the middle of a concert.

And that’s just the high points.

Until next time...

Second, here’s an actual photo of an airport parking garage. Okay, not really. But that’s how it feels sometimes. Dang it. Just saying. (Generated with AI.)


1. For a very funny, and very true take on Texans’ problems with the heat, see “ Fahrenheit 105: Why I No Longer Love the Texas Heat: I like to think I am Texas Tough when it comes to the heat. But lately, my fortitude has been tested,” by  Forrest Wilder, Texas Monthly, July 27, 2023.

2. Texas has long been a stronghold of Climate Change Denialism, partly because of the state’s general conservatism, and partly because fossil fuels are such a big part of the local economy. Yet, even so, in recent years, soaring temperatures have begun to change people’s opinions. See, for example, “Is Climate Change Denial Thawing in Texas?: Surprising statements by oil industry leaders have grabbed headlines. But the bigger change is underway more quietly, among young Republicans,” by Christopher Hooks, April 2020, Texas Monthly,

Copyright©2024 Michael Jay Tucker

Second, here’s an actual photo of an airport parking garage. Okay, not really. But that’s how it feels sometimes. Dang it. Just saying. (Generated with AI.)


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